Why Backpacking?

4 11 2010

Me, hiking PA's West Rim Trail

Two Sundays ago, I returned from a real-life adventure. There were glorious views and aching feet, midnight snow and evening rain, critter encounters and an injury. This adventure only took a few days and cost relatively little, but it plucked my husband and I out of our comfortable lives and immersed us more fully in our own survival. We went backpacking.

Some may ask why we would endure weather extremes, freeze-dried food, sleeping on the ground, and muscle pains. The truth is, there is a moment during every trip when even a seasoned backpacker asks themselves the same questions. However, the payoffs are legendary; just ask John Muir, hiker extraordinaire and father of the American park system. He exhorts us to “Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

Yes, it is good to “break clear away,” to work for your vistas and waterfalls, and for your comfort at day’s end. To build a fire – especially when it is hard to do. To have your breath taken away by the sight of something no person could make. To realize that all you need to survive you can haul on your back, and that all the stuff back at home is just window-dressing. And to know that you are blessed with lungs, senses, and thoughts, and that all of these things cost nothing at all.

That is why I go backpacking.








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